I am looking to purchase a mixer to record our band in our in-home studio. We will use it mainly to record cover tunes to help us get gigs and to show off how great we are to our friends, LOL..
I was hoping someone could explain the key differences between the AI and AR mixers in context of doing in-home recordings. I think what I am asking is for a Pros/Cons of using an AR mixer opposed to an AI mixer for doing in-home recordings.
I am currently using Studio One Pro V3 with a FireStudio Project. So I want to make sure that the AR will do the same job as the FireStudio just with the added benefits of the mixer. Of course, I am planning to buy an AR16, so I am looking forward to having the extra channels.
I haven't studied the AR mixers in detail yet but the basics are pretty easy:
The AIs are digital mixers with lots of signal processing options, where the ARs are analog mixers which limits the audio options to little more than levels, panning and EQ, and only one or two aux outputs. That can be perfectly fine for home recording but for live performances you'll quickly need more than what the ARs can offer.
For recording duty the AIs and ARs both are capable of recording all mixer channels to separate tracks. So for filling the tracks in your DAW I see little difference. What the AIs have over the ARs is the capability to return those tracks to their individual mixer channels. That's very handy for playback of individual monitor mixes. The ARs only allow you to return 4 channels to the mixer. Enough for a backing track and e.g. your DAW's main mix. It may be enough for you.
A very important difference is the digital interfaces: FireWire vs. USB. Compared to FireWire USB has some technical limitations regarding audio streaming, but USB interfaces are present on practically every computer and installation is pretty simple.
FireWire has a few technical advantages but it can be a pain to set up, that is provided that you computer has a FireWire interface with a digital audio compatible chipset, or a PCI port (for a compatible firewire card), or a thunderbolt port ( for a compatible thunderbolt-to-firewire interface). Maybe not worth the trouble.
Hope that helps to make a choice.
Thanks SwitchBack. That has given me a lot to consider. I do plan to use it for live performances, but our setup is simple so it should be fine for that for now. I am mainly looking for a cost effective way to get more channels than my FireStudio Project and something that will work with a cheap computer/laptop using USB.
Since I am a drummer, I use my iMac and FireStudio Project at home with my drums. So my plan is to get an AR Mixer for the studio and use an existing Dell laptop to collect the data, then I can take it home to mix on my iMac.
BTW: Funny you mentioned the Firewire compatibility issue--as it turns out, my Dell Studio XPS laptop has a built in Firewire port, but it has an incompatible chipset and will not work with my FireStudio. Now at least there is hope that the crappy Windows laptop will work with the AR mixer since it uses USB.
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